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President Zardari to remain under doctors' observation

December 07, 2011

President Asif Ali Zardari. - Reuters (File Photo)

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari is in Dubai for treatment for a heart condition, the government said on Wednesday, with one source saying he had suffered a minor heart attack and fuelling speculation that the leader may resign.

The statement from the prime minister's office said Zardari went to a Dubai hospital at the insistence of his children, who live there. It contradicted earlier reports from Zardari's own office that the tests were scheduled and routine.

“The president went to Dubai following symptoms related to his pre-existing heart condition,” Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani's media office said.

“The president will remain under observation and return to resume his normal functions as advised by the doctors.”

A presidential spokesman later quoted Zardari's doctor as saying his condition was stable.

A Pakistani source in Dubai familiar with the 56-year-old president's condition told Reuters that he had suffered a minor heart attack.

“Two days ago, he had chest pain” and decided to go to Dubai, the source said.

Six years ago, Zardari had also had a minor heart attack, the source said. “Since then, he has been on medication.”

“He had a minor heart attack on Tuesday. He flew to Dubai where he had an angioplasty. He's in good health now,” Mustafa Khokhar, adviser to the prime minister on human rights who sits in the cabinet also told AFP.

“There's no question of any resignation,” he added.

A Dubai-based member of Zardari's Pakistan People's Party (PPP), Mian Muneer Hans, said the president landed in Dubai around 7:30 pm on Tuesday.

“He walked to his car in the airport and was not on any ambulance,” said Hans, adding that he was accompanied by his doctor and petroleum minister Asim Hussain. Zardari was taken straight to the American Hospital in Dubai, said Hans.

“He's taking rest in the hospital now. He may be there for two to three days,” he added.

The hospital's chief executive officer Thomas Murray, contacted by Reuters, declined to comment on the reports.

The rumours about his health and possible resignation swirled on Twitter and other social media.

“Some elements blew up this to create unrest in the country,” said Fauzia Wahab, a senior member of the PPP. “His visit to Dubai and having a medical check up is perfectly normal.”

Zardari was due to address parliament this week after the Supreme Court admitted an opposition leader's petition demanding a judicial inquiry into the memo issue, including any role played by Zardari. That address has now been postponed.

If he were to leave office, he would become vulnerable to long-standing corruption charges in Pakistan by losing his legal immunity as a head of state.